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Could be getting really noisy on S-band soon



In today's Business 2.0 Magazine:

Wi-Fi's Next Big Step

RoamAD says it has technology that gives a wireless LAN a city-size
footprint.

By Rafe Needleman, September 19, 2002



One of the most interesting businesses I've seen lately is RoamAD, a New
Zealand-based company that is building technology for seamless metropolitan
Wi-Fi coverage. It enables a wireless access provider to offer continuous
wireless local area network connections to devices within small, but
downtown-size, areas.

Wi-Fi wasn't built for this; the whole idea of hot spots today bespeaks the
technology's short range and orientation toward users that are nomadic
(move, stop, communicate), but not mobile (communicate while moving).

In fact, when companies like T-Mobile roll out Wi-Fi systems to thousands of
locations, the coverage really does look like thousands of separate networks
from the perspective of the computers using these services. The hot spots
aren't integrated and don't reinforce each other's coverage. About the only
way they are linked is through their billing system.

RoamAD, on the other hand, builds Wi-Fi radio networks. The company looks at
the geography and architecture in a contained metropolitan area and
engineers a coordinated installation of access points and antennas. They
also tweak their radios' electronic identifiers so a Wi-Fi end-user device
sees one big cloud of access, not a bunch of short-range access points. To
handle a large number of users, the maximum data rate per device is dialed
back to well below Wi-Fi's native Ethernet speeds, but still in line with 3G
(third-generation) network technology at its best

The company has a 3-square-kilometer test system in Auckland, New Zealand;
it is currently working on building a 50-square-kilometer system, which will
require about 800 access points. The company says this infrastructure will
cost only 5% of the expense of a comparable metropolitan 3G rollout.

There are many technical and financial challenges ahead for this company,
but if the team has truly figured out an economic way to blanket a city with
Wi-Fi coverage and can defend its intellectual property, its prospects are
excellent.


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